My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.
~ Steve Jobs
It all began with a message form one of you:
Background: Our teachers have always researched and implemented various “scheduling” sites to host on their Announcement Page to allow their students use and make appointments for DBAs, monthly calls and so on…but those sites such as FLASH appointments either cost the organization money or are now offline.
Idea: Would it be possible to incorporate a “scheduler” into Educator so the student could click and make an appointment with their teacher RIGHT THERE in the course? The teacher could have the option to “block out” times on the scheduler so students/parents couldn’t make an appointment and when one student made an appointment for say a 15 minute time period – it would not be available to anyone else to prevent double booking. And, the piece de resistance: could the Educator scheduler communicate with the FLVS Outlook calendar?
I know it’s a lot but HOW RUBUST would that make Educator?
We know your calendars are pretty full, aren’t they? We know you need to schedule time to talk with students. From time to time, you need to make appointments with parents or supervisors as well. Have we got a tool for you!
What? No cheering? No excitement? Don’t you appreciate how this tool called a calendar could be a big help in planning and managing your time? You were expecting something new and different? Well, take a look at this one:
Now we’re getting somewhere! Let’s get through some explanation and take a closer look.
Your new calendar is a lot more than neat colored boxes. It’s a tool for you, and it’s also a tool for your students! This is going to be a bit more complex than most enhancements, so please follow along. Please remember: you can always ask questions (and offer answers) in our Facebook community or the comments section here.
This new calendar is best used to indicate office hours. Think of it as a sign on your door, letting students (and others) know when they can schedule an appointment (15-minute blocks) to meet with you. It might be every day; it might be only on Tuesday mornings. That’s entirely up to you. It’s important to understand that this calendar is NOT a reflection of when you are available. It is rather a management tool to allow others to schedule time with you. Once you get rolling and help your students understand, you’ll get it. For the sake of your own sanity, start slowly. Take a few hours over a day or a few days and see what happens.
First, there are some ground rules for greater understanding:
- Teachers must activate the calendar in a course.
- Activating the calendar in one course will activate the calendar in all courses.
- This release of the calendar applies the SAME SCHEDULE for all checked days. At this time, you cannot have different daily schedules. You can choose which days to use, but every day will have the same schedule. SECRET NOTE: We do have a way to adjust the daily schedule.
- Teacher calendars are global.
- The calendar is identical in each course taught. On any teacher calendar in any course, the listed appointments are identical and will show scheduled appointments across all teaching courses.
- Student calendars, however, are course-specific.
- Appointments with teachers only appear within the calendar inside that particular course.
- Both teachers and students can schedule, edit, or delete appointments.
- Teachers have total control of office hours.
Those are the basic ground rules. Are you ready to give it a whirl? Let’s get better control of your time!
Forever is composed of nows.
~ Emily Dickinson
The first step is to activate your calendar. You can enable your calendar from any course by visiting the calendar link. The first thing you will need to do is to edit your availability.
The day you set this up will be highlighted with the note to “Click EDIT AVAILABILITY to enable appointments.” Remember that your availability will be open to students and others to schedule 15-minute blocks of time. With that in mind, you might want to start small … a couple of hours on a couple of days. It’s up to you. This calendar is an evolutionary enhancement. At the current time … whatever hours you select will apply to all days checked. For example, if you select 8am to 10am as your hours and Tuesday and Thursday as your days, then every TUE and THU will be open for students to schedule meetings between those hours. Are you still with us here?
When you edit/create your availability, there will be some choices you will need to make:
- First, you will need to activate course appointments.
- Select the days you want to accept appointments made by others.
- What hours will you commit to here?
- Would you like to receive reminders about appointments?
- When a student creates an appointment, do you want an email sent your way?
When you schedule receipt of reminders, you will be asked to select the time frame in which they will occur:
While we’re on the subject of reminders, they will appear for you …
… and for your students as well:
The toolbar has also joined this calendar enhancement. From within any course in which you are working, you will be able to click the calendar drop-down to view the appointments scheduled for today:
Clicking on an appointment will take you to either that course (for the students or for appointments without a student tagged to it) or to the grade report for that student. This should save some time, right? We’re almost done getting through the first level of this first release. Are you still there?
There are two buttons in the top right of your calendar page: CALENDAR FEED and CALENDAR LINK. Teachers can also export their calendars to Outlook , Google Calendar, iCal, or whatever calendar you might choose! Really? Yes! Click on the CALENDAR FEED button, and you will see this:
Copy the link and paste it into your Calendar program of choice. For our purposes here, we will use Microsoft Outlook as an example. We cannot give instructions for every calendar because we don’t use them all. We will help you, and your fellow teachers will surely help you, if you post questions on our Facebook page. Back to Outlook …
Add a calendar from the Internet:
Paste in the URL copied above:
The YES button should suffice:
Once it’s all done, you calendar in Outlook will automatically reflect any appointments made in tour Educator calendar.
This will require an Internet connection, and you will need to refresh the views in your calendar. Give it a try!
The CALENDAR LINK button is for something else. This will create an HTML link that you can use on your Announcement page or even in an email.
Copy and paste that link wherever you like and see the result.
There are some final notes about the calendar worth sharing at this time. If you need or want to block off times temporarily (meaning this week or this day), you can just schedule an appointment for yourself that simply says BUSY. This will block off that time from the student view. Appointments for other students will simply show as “Busy” in red. Any appointments for the student show in blue. Any appointments for a course they are in are shown in green.
That’s enough for now. Your questions will surely follow, but the information above should get you started. Anything else?
There is actually another enhancement that was just rolled out for you. This one actually began on Facebook:
First, I LOVE the snippets. They are very helpful with speeding up the process of grading. When I grade, I grade in order of assignments. So my snippet tag of “module 1” gets used first. But every time I go to a new assignment, I have to re-select the module 1 tag. Is there a way the tag can be “locked” from one assignment to the next? I appreciate all you do.
As long as you are in the same browser, your selections will now stick … Sticky Snippets! Thanks for all your suggestions and comments. We grow more robust with your help … and we appreciate you.
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~ Sam Walton